Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What an Acquisitions Editor Seeks

(By Nick Harrison, acquisitions editor at Harvest House)

I enjoy writing about writing—and talking about it. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy writer’s conferences. They’re a great way to fellowship with other writers.

One often overlooked aspect of a conference is the networking benefit. I’ll let you in on a trade secret. Once I know authors—usually those I’ve met at a conference—I feel more at home in evaluating their book proposals.

Sometimes I’ll meet aspiring authors at a conference, and despite their present lack of ability or focus, if I find myself meeting with a kindred spirit, I’m more likely to want to help them than if the aspiring writers are cold or unwelcoming. It’s just human nature.

Sometimes I’ll pursue the moodier writers if the writing is really good, and sometimes I’ll tell kindred-spirited authors that there’s no way I can help them, but not often.

The best author/editor combination is when editors “get” what authors are trying to accomplish with their writing and when the authors understand the importance of finding not just any editor, but the right editor.

In a recent issue of Publisher’s Weekly, they printed lengthy tributes to two deceased members of the publishing industry—one a well-respected editor and the other a noted agent. In both cases, I was struck by the tributes from those writers who worked with them.

They spoke endearingly of the deep friendship they shared, and, of course, gratitude for the help those friendships had in advancing their careers.

Almost all of the writers I edit, I also count as friends.

So in reality I’m not just out to acquire books, I’m also out to acquire writing friends. Friends who love to talk about writing and who hunger for the same kind of success I hunger for.

Really, such relationships are rare, but worth the search. I should know; one of those friendships for me has turned out to be Cec Murphey whom I met years ago at Mount Hermon.

All that to say that you really do need to attend at least one writer’s conference a year if you want to succeed. That’s the way you’ll eventually meet that rare editor who will light up with recognition when he or she meets you—a kindred spirit!

--Nick Harrison, Harvest House


  1. Nick, thanks for sharing this. Although at my first encounter with you I was the poster boy for what you describe-- lack of ability or focus--you've been a friend and encourager ever since. And if I ever put a bonnet on the cover of one of my books, I'll be sending it to you.

  2. Encouraging post. I think we do need to be friends first, no matter what the profession. I just read somewhere that a job is more enjoyable if you socialize with the people you work with. Look first for friends. I hope I meet you some year at a writer's conference.

  3. Thanks, Cec, for posting this. Now I'm even more excited to be at the Write His Answer conference next week. I'm looking forward to making friends, and I'm glad to know editors are, too!

  4. This is valuable insight. Thank You! We will miss the Writers' Conference in the Quad City area but believing another door will open. It was great meeting you there. Kudos to Twila, Cynthia and Michelle! God Bless and stay tuned...

  5. It would be interesting to know how many of us authors/editors know Cec to be a kindred spirit. I suspect the number is exceptionally high.


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